First, Always, Hold on to the Land

[imgbelt img=lakotalandonefeather530.jpg]The need for better housing is dire for some Native Americans, but for many people, like Leola One Feather, keeping ownership of long-contested land remains the first priority.


Tiospaye-Winyan Maka. One Feather will be using some of the wood from the homestead, which hides among sunflowers and old appliances next to her trailer. It’s more of a practical consideration than sentimental, as aged wood is not easy to come by in a community that lies 100 miles from the nearest supply store.

The short building season is quickly giving way to the icy winds of another Dakota winter in her threadbare trailer. But she’s using the time to put her thoughts toward the future.

“What I always imagine, in my earth house, that one day I’m going to sit in a circle with all my kids and all my grandchildren, and I’m going to have a ceremony, and I’m going to thank God that I have land that my grandparents gave me.”

Jamie Folsom is an independent, multimedia journalist who covers rural life, science and First Nations issues. Videographer Nat Kramer contributed to this series. They are currently developing a set of in-depth multimedia stories on eco-housing projects in Indian Country. Contact for syndication: